“I see that the pious Hsi P’êng persists in correcting my solitude”
The Garden of Forking Paths, Jorge Luis Borges
As I mentioned, I am reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. It was a swell start, apart from the sore wrist I have from carrying the leviathan around. Entertaining, fascinating characters, the incestuous world of academia, cynical reporters, police officers, and a half deranged professor all circling around a reclusive German writer and the horrific events in Santa Teresa, Mexico. A whole world of weirdness, weird enough to be highly likely.
And then there was part 4: The Part About The Crimes.
By the end of this nearly 300 hundred page section my jaw is tired from bearing down to get through it. I kept having this reoccurring thought as I read it – what would it have been like to have written this? At least my eye could occasionally skim the in-numerous rapes, body parts, rotting corpses, and chillingly placed shoe or panties. But when one writes, they are not afforded such a luxury. One is forced to linger on the words and imagery that pile up in heaps. It’s rough.
So when my philosophy teacher assigned us in his quasi-homeschooling-the-information-is-here-for-the-taking-if-you-are-interested-but-it’s-not-necessarily-anything-to-me-whether-you-are-or-you-are-not-it’s-your-own-mind-to-do-what-you-will-drink-horse-or-don’t way, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges – I did not need to be coaxed. Get me the hell out of Santa Teresa for 10 minutes PLEASE.
It took a little more than 10 minutes, not least of all because he did not give us the correct title. I am 99.3% certain he meant for us to read Fuñes the Memorious because it is on point to our in-class discussion. I am now completly transported into Borges Labyrinths. Furthermore, I can no longer see the point of a philosophy class without Borges being required reading. My professor seemed to suddenly come upon this idea yesterday as well, hence the impetuous assignment. But I could see designing a syllabus around these stories, they seem to me a sort of applied philosophical literature. The class might look something like:
Metaphysical primary conditions (what is real?): Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
What is the mind?: Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote
Western Religious Thought: The Library of Babel
Free will: The Garden of Forking Paths
What is Intelligence?: Fuñes the Memorious
And so on…I’m sure someone has thought of this already and much more competently than I. But I would love to take such a class. Anyone who conceives of the universe as a library and man as an imperfect librarian is all right in my book. The complexity and beauty with which these stories are written is mind boggling and so far, only one murder and time spent if not correcting my solitude, (I given up on correcting that) at least correcting…something. Hopefully some of my more deleterious character traits are not yet beyond the reach of correction. Oh that’s right, I’ve given up on hope too. Damn. “As was natural, this inordinate hope was followed by an excessive depression.”*
Mr. Archimboldi*- I’m ready for you now.
* The Library of Babel, Borges
*Part 5, The Part About Archimboldi, 2666 Bolaño